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Do I need a workout partner?
Do you find yourself slipping when alone, but really going for it when you are around people? Are you moderately competitive? Are you a very social person, almost to the point of distraction? Are you often training to failure or depending on negative reps? Do you feel uncomfortable working out alone?
Do you have an erratic schedule? If your goal is "maintenance". Do you do mostly indoor cardio? In these cases your best bet is to maintain your concentration and imagination during your workouts.
Of course if you would feel better training with a friend don't hesitate just because it isn't necessary. Anything that keeps you going or makes fitness more interesting or challenging is a good thing! Besides working out together can be a good chance to spend serious, productive quality time with a friend, spouse or relative.
Things you need to consider once you've decided to get a partner.
Look for a similar:
1. Level of commitment: How often you want to go, how hard do you want to work out.
2. Schedules: Only on weekends.
3. Goal: Large or small gains, aerobic or muscle mass, areas needing working.
4. Location: Are you geographically close or can your daily routes be similarly diverted.
5. Level of achievement: Where are you physically and knowledge wise.
Neighbours, a friend from work, someone you see at the gym. Anyone that seems to be in the right place at the right time. Unlike going on a date you can be very specific about what you want right off the bat, before you commit. You already know they do the same kind of thing you do, running, weights or aerobics. Start out by describing your typical schedule and goals for the next couple months.
Working out with the opposite sex?
For serious weight gain there will probably be too large a difference in the weights used. For the vast majority of people there should be no problem. Sets, reps and aerobic times for people at the same level will be almost identical while weights on machines can be changed in a moment. Replace barbell exercises with dumbbells that can be quickly grabbed, preset from the rack.
Your level of commitment is likely the most important thing. You have to be very clear about how committed both of you are to this endeavor. Having similar goals and ideas will smooth the way for many of your workouts. Next is scheduling; you are committing to be there for the person and vice versa for some time in the future. Some people have workout partners for years, others for a few months at a time. Usually have a partner for about 6 months to reach a specific goal and to fit in with my schedule. For the six months that I don't have a steady partner, I make sure to ask people I know to spot or workout with me on a day to day basis. All you need to do is ask someone you know if they are working on the same body part as you or find out their schedule and coordinate for the next couple days and/or bodyparts. Make sure to set a reasonable schedule, one you can both follow.
Discuss your goals thoroughly. It is possible for one to be working towards competition while the other is doing simple maintenance. It takes focus and communication.
More than one Partner!!!
Don't be shocked many people do this. I work out my legs by myself, chest/biceps twice a week with Derek and upper body with Gary once a week. On the one hand Derek really pushes me with my pecs and biceps. For my other upper body exercises I do a light and then a heavy day when Gary is available. This helps "surprise" the muscle with a slightly different workout. While all of us are going for approximately the same goal and work out in the same place, once those goals are reached we will likely not continue to work out in this manner together, though I know they will always be good for the occasional special, high intensity workout.
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